38. Bridge: “As You Like It” bridge

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Or, “Bridge As You Like It”–either way–it’s a phrase out of bridge history for the ACBL and bridge establishment to consider embracing. The phrase serves both as a descriptive sub-title for a club and as a plan for the growth of bridge amongst the under-40 crowd. The sentiment implied by that phrase from the past — “As You Like It” bridge — ought to be included in any marketing plans for the future.

If bridge survives only as a serious game of tournaments and duplicate bridge and Masters Points–that is indeed a paltry remnant of what once was an icon of popular culture, social life, and entertaining with roots back to  the whist of British Royalty, George Washington and Jane Austen novels.  It was, still is, part of social history, and especially part of women’s history.

As I see it, the ACBL and bridge establishment have about five years to recreate bridge in America as it used to be. After that there’ll be nobody left playing bridge with institutional memory back to the Goren/Culbertson eras.  Institutional memory will be gone except for the ACBL as it is today.

I didn’t intend to blog about that “As You Like It” phrase just yet–haven’t really tackled the research. But I’m feeling mortal lately–I wanted to get this 3d Hand of blogs (27-39)  into print ASAP. After all, this Hand of these Bridge Table Chronicles deals with summing up of impediments, as I see them, to growing bridge amongst the young. I don’t want to depart the planet–or go senile–leaving them undone.

What do I know now about that “As You Like It Bridge” phrase?

Not all that much. I have a citation for its existence in 1929–auction bridge era. A kind of garbled citation as early as 1913. I know it is a name that was taken by clubs of all kinds. Women-only, men-only, couples clubs. Geographically, they existed in a variety of places–South Carolina club of middle-class black women early in the 20th century as well as presumably white-only bridge clubs in Missouri, Michigan.  It has intrigued me since the first time I saw it mentioned.

I did have a citation for a presently-existing “As You Like It” bridge club–in the southwest as I remember–but I’ve mislaid it. It’s around here someplace! Perhaps the archives at the ACBL have some clues?

I’d like to see the phrase used as part of a club’s name to declare it open to both serious and sociable bridge, like this:
The “As You Like It” Bridge Club of Prairie Junction

OR EVEN BETTER

The Prairie Junction Bridge Club
” Bridge As You Like It”

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